Greenpop celebrates 3 weeks of regenerative impact in Eden district
With over 4000 trees planted, and 265 participants and volunteers getting their hands dirty, the Festival of Action wrapped up last weekend, with an explosive celebratory music evening.
The last three weeks have seen Greenpop’s Eden Festival of Action spearhead their inaugural festival in the Garden Route: an endeavour which has culminated as a roaring success, with thousands of trees planted by hundreds of active citizens from all over the country – and the world.
Operating from the welcoming home base at Peace of Eden Vegan Lodge in Rheenendal, the festival’s sites of action spread throughout the surrounding areas which were impacted by the devastating fires which ravaged the Eden District in June 2017.
The initial two weeks of the programme were geared towards high school students, and saw 85 and 75 students respectively join Greenpop from schools across the country, while the third and final week hosted an All Ages programme. Bitou Municipality and Garden Route Rebuild Initiative both sponsored scholarships, allowing 30 local students to attend the festival free of charge.
The primary goal of the festival was to cultivate community connections and initiate mass positive environmental impact in the region in through many aspects as possible – including indigenous reforestation, alien vegetation clearing, eco-education workshops, and mural painting. Build It Knysna generously sponsored a substantial number of tools and materials for the production set up of the festival.
Greenpop’s effort collectively cleared 5500m2 of alien vegetation at Goukamma Nature Reserve over the course of three days.
Mass indigenous reforestation efforts saw 500 trees planted at Phantom Forest Nature Reserve, 1680 trees at Heartlands School of Self-Sufficiency and 1600 trees Featherbed Nature Reserve.
Three urban greening sites also saw some hard work put into them, with more established trees planted for windbreaks and buffer zones. With 319 trees planted at Raphaeli Waldorf School in Plettenberg Bay, 25 at Conville Primary School in George, 15 at Eyethu Educare in Knysna, 10 at Whites Location and 11 at Touws Ranten Primary School. In addition, 36 trees were planted at Peace of Eden itself.
A total of 4226 indigenous trees of over 20 different species were planted over the course of the festival.
Three environmental murals were painted, headed up by Stellenbosch art lecturer Mieke van der Merwe and assisted by local Knysna artist Artwell Musungate and saw a total of 55m2 of urban space painted. The locations of which are Masizame Child & Youth Centre in Kwanokothula, Knysna town hall, and Touws Ranten. This project also involved local child-care initiatives, bringing disadvantaged youth into a space to help beautify and connect with their community through working with Masizame Child & Youth Centre, Mad About Art, and Seven Passes Initiative. Benches, sponsored by Timber Village, we installed at each mural site.
Striving for a minimal waste festival, all waste on site was recycled, composted or eco-bricked, saving over 53 bags of waste from going to landfill. All toilets on site operated on a compost toilet system, and showers on a natural greywater system, also drastically reducing water consumption on site.
In addition, the entire programme was catered for with a delicious plant-based diet, serving no dairy or meat products, cooked lovingly by the Peace of Eden Lodge kitchen and generously sponsored by Knysna Food Lover’s Market in line with their firm sustainability ethos as a store.
Over 370 Ecobricks were made over the course of the festival – a project which was headed up by Ian Dommisse, who pioneered Ecobricking in South Africa. This project was an aspect which also involved local child-care initiatives, building benches and educating participants and locals on the importance of eliminating single use plastics.
Three beach clean-ups took place between Sedgefield and Buffalo Bay, in partnership with Beach Co-Op, and Secret Sunrise who facilitated a silent dance party on the final clean-up.
A selection of eco-education workshops were hosted throughout the course of the festival. These included an introduction to Permaculture by Philippa Mallac, an introduction to Biomimicry by Sue Swain, natural building, eco-social enterprise, mindfulness, mycology cultivation, forest ecology, beekeeping at Hope for the Honeybees, a camera trap workshop with Landmark Foundation, and a guitar workshop with local legend Tony Cox.
An ongoing music programme was run throughout the festival, culminating in an original track co-created by all the musicians involved, and recorded at Howard Butcher’s Peace of Eden Recording Studio on the main festival site. Paulo Costa spearheaded the programme, and the track included collaborations with Jeremy Loops, The Steezies, and Crosscurrent, as well as a number of musically inclined team members and participants. The final product will be released soon, along with a music video shot on site.
Greenpop also hosted 12 free Open Days which allowed the chance for members of the local public to join the Festival for a variety of active days of reforestation, beach clean-ups, alien vegetation clearing and urban greening. Over 260 locals volunteered their time to help the cause.
Greenpop is incredibly grateful for the local support and very excited to continue the work they have begun in the Eden District.
Eden Festival of Action 2019 is open for pre-registration… Apply here
Photos: Juliette Bisset